Lock yourself into the beat, but don’t become prisoner to it. The techno pioneer Jeff Mills understands that only too well. “Not being tied to other musicians when using a drum machine and electronics live can be a liberating experience,” he explains. “Because we aren’t strapped together by some master tempo clock, I’m able to play my instruments and speak with the machine, not just program a pattern and press play. It was important to have devised this technique so that I could meet Tony creatively. We each do our thing, but we can do it together.”
In his quest to liberate himself from the tyranny of the sequencer, Mills couldn’t wish for a better partner than the father of Afrobeat. Many consider Tony Allen to be one of the greatest drummers alive. In the last thirty years, his signature mix of Nigerian roots, polyglot jazz and no-fuss funkiness – delivered with both absolute looseness and absolute precision – has spread like a virus around the world, infecting the work of artists as diverse as Damon Albarn, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Moritz Oswald.
Jeff Mills is a titan of the electronic dance scene and a tireless innovator, who helped to give birth to the 1980s Detroit techno scene before going on to compose electro symphonies, soundtracks and sonic odysseys inspired by futurism and space travel, working with visual artists, choreographers, classical orchestras, even astronauts. His collaboration with Tony Allen is another rhythmic conversation in a long and well-established discourse, but a special one too. “We’re working together to achieve something bigger than the both of us,” he says. “It really is a pure collaboration, not just through music, but in our minds and spirit as well.”
The pair first shared a stage in December 2016, at the New Morning in Paris. Their live show shows have become a rhythm summit without equal, a chance to witness two of the world’s most innovative beat-makers, supplemented by the Moogs and synths of Jean-Philippe Dary, fusing past and future into an intense, seamless present where digital and analogue, jazz and electro, Africa and America, the source and the delta, become one. “I think, maybe, we have done something that wasn’t there before,” Tony admits.
Meanwhile, here on this spinning platter, nature is reclaiming the beat and machinery is become less visible, less imposing. Truth is, no one can predict the future, just as they can’t predict where any piece of music played by Tony Allen and Jeff Mills will take them. That’s all the excitement – to get on board with two of the world greatest living masters of rhythm, set the controls for the heart of their spinning world, and boldly go into the unknown.
|1||LOCKED AND LOADED|
|3||ON THE RUN|
|5||NIGHT WATCHER FEAT CARL HANCOCK RUX|